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The Peyton Effect

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Newly acquired Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning isn't just a great fantasy value who has averaged 4,217 passing yards per season over his career, he's a wave that carries his entire receiving corps with him.

To see how much of an effect Manning has on his receivers, let's look at the current situations in Indianapolis and Denver.

Despite questions as to whether Manning was going to play at all in 2011, his Colts receivers had a much higher average draft position than they have this year with rookie No. 1 overall selection Andrew Luck at quarterback.

Five-time Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne's ADP has fallen from 33.8 last year, to 76.3 as of this morning. Austin Collie's ADP has plummeted from 78.3 to 123.1. And while Dallas Clark had a 56.2 ADP last year, this year's starter Coby Fleener's ADP is 143.9.

At the same time, Denver's receivers have jumped way up the charts.

Expectations are huge for third-year wideout Demaryius Thomas. Coming off a great two-game playoff season in which he caught 10 balls for 297 yards and a touchdown, from Tim Tebow no less, Thomas is expected to be a top 20 receiver. That's quite a jump after being ranked No. 420 by fantasyfootballnerd.com in 2011.

Here at the Sports Network, we're convinced that the Manning-to-Thomas combination will be one of the league's best. Our projections have Thomas catching 75 balls for 1,260 yards and 11 scores ranking him sixth among wide receivers.

The high expectations don't stop with Thomas as Eric Decker is currently being selected in the sixth round with a 55.8 ADP. He was ranked 213th in 2011. Our projections for Decker are 66 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, making him a viable fantasy-worthy No. 3 receiver with a value similar to what Torrey Smith or Jabar Gaffney produced last season.

Meanwhile, tight end Jacob Tamme, who followed Manning from Indianapolis to Denver in the offseason, is currently ranked as the eighth-best fantasy tight end. The Broncos didn't have a tight end ranked in the top 380 players last season.

Manning doesn't ignore the running game either. From 1999-2005, his starting tailback in Indianapolis, Edgerrin James, rushed for more than 1,100 yards in five of seven seasons (he was injured in 2001 playing just six games and had 989 yards in 2002). And the oft-injured Joseph Addai cracked the 1,000-yard mark twice. His starting tailback in Denver, Willis McGahee, rushed for 1,199 yards and four touchdowns last season, mainly against eight-man fronts. Expectations are that he can run for a similar total in 2012, but score more touchdowns now that Tebow (six rushing TDs last year) is playing with the Jets.

McGahee would seem to be a bargain as a sixth-round fantasy selection (ADP 51.6).

In review, both starting receivers, tight end and running back are expected to significantly improve in Denver with Manning at quarterback. Meanwhile, there is only guarded optimism among fantasy owners that Colts receivers will do well.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.


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